New Jersey’s Joan Dancy and PALS fights for those battling ALS
I have participated in trying to eradicate many diseases and I’ve championed many causes in my extensive charity work. My mother instilled in me to help those that need it the most. I have always felt good when I’ve helped others and felt satisfied that most of the time my efforts were instrumental in helping those who need it.
But I met my match over 23 years ago when I was asked to help out with Phil Villapiano’s Field of Hope Gala which was an annual fundraiser that raised 100's of thousands of dollars for ALS research. Phil is a well known Jersey celebrity. He played football for the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills, winning All Pro honors and is a Super Bowl Champion.
Phil is great in lending his time and gathering other celebrities for the cause. He’s a good friend and I appreciate his commitment to helping others who need it.
ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis a terrible disease that progressively attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord resulting in muscle weakness and atrophy. There is NO CURE to this horrible disease and it is fatal.
I was a friend of Terry Magovern. He was the larger than life right hand man of Bruce Springsteen. He was his confident, his assistant and the guy everybody had to go through to get to Bruce. He was with Bruce for years.
Terry and I became friends and sat on the board of other charities together and would often help each other out for the cause. Terry was engaged to a wonderful woman Joan Dancy who Terry once described as the woman who “gets me”.
Joan at the age of 50 was diagnosed with ALS. It was devastating news for her family and Terry. Terry used every connection he could to make Joan’s life more enjoyable. Joan was named the Person of the Year at Phil’s Field of Hope Gala.
Terry and Joan were there with their families and Bruce Springsteen came and brought a guitar with him. I auctioned that guitar with Bruce by my side and we got another $26,000 for the guitar with the proceeds going to ALS. It was soon after that the Field of Hope Gala ended. Getting sponsors and asking donors each year for large donations became a strain on the community and frankly seeing those suffering from ALS becoming a statistic and then no longer with us became gut wrenching.
One of Terry’s frustrations was that there was no organization that could help those patients with ALS get direct assistance with wheel chair access to their homes, lowering cabinets, accessible vehicles and ramps while making life easier for those suffering with this disease. There was an organization in Philadelphia but nothing in Central Jersey serving those with ALS.
Joan Dancy succumbed to the terrible ALS disease and Terry founded the Joan Dancy and PALS (People with ALS) Foundation in 2005. He met with me and asked me to be a part of this growing organization. I was thrilled to help.
The thing about Terry is that when he wants something done, it happens. Joan Dancy and PALS also put in support groups and family meetings to help those families cope with ALS. Terry Magovern passed away in July of 2007. His passion still lives on in helping those with ALS. His son Sean and others have guided this fine charity to continue making life better for those fighting ALS.
I know we are all in the middle of some tough times and it’s been a financial struggle but if you could help this charity continue their work I would appreciate it. For more information or to help please go to joandancyandpals.org. Thanks.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.